On August 16, 2022 The Food and Drug Administration released its long-awaited regulations for over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids. The regulations were written to create a category for non-prescription devices (that was proposed in 2017), as well as to clean up and amend the existing hearing aid regulations. OTC Hearing Aids are for people 18 years and older with perceived mild to moderate hearing loss. This rule will take effect in October 2022.
Hearing Resources Audiology Center supports access to OTC hearing aids; we also believe that audiologists are a critical component of hearing health care. Our mission includes consumer education in technology options including prescription fitting solutions and verification of and training to use OTC options.
When it comes to hearing aids, there is no single best device for everyone. There are a lot of factors that go into which hearing aid is the best for each individual person. Hearing loss, lifestyle, auditory processing (higher level brain functioning), dexterity, finances, cosmetics, and personal preference are all important things to consider when choosing the “best” hearing aid for a patient.
We wanted to give you some helpful tips when doing your research about options for your hearing loss or your loved ones. A forthcoming blog post will examine the differences between personal sound amplification (PSAP) devices, the new OTC devices and traditional hearing aids.
Questions to ask before purchasing any hearing treatment including Hearing Aids or OTC devices:
Have I had a hearing test? Do I need one? Typically, people who purchase OTC hearing aids do not have a hearing test done beforehand. Without this test, you may purchase devices that are not appropriate for your hearing loss. Also, your ears will not be examined. You may have wax buildup or a medical issue that should be diagnosed. We encourage a hearing evaluation prior to deciding what type of device to try. How are you going to know what your hearing needs are without knowing what your hearing loss is?
What is the process if you have issues with the fit or sound quality? Many patients require fit or sound quality adjustments in their acclimatization (learning or trial) period. If you purchase a new device at our office we follow audiology best practices for prescriptive individual fittings, including comprehensive communication needs assessment, verification procedures, and training for you and your family. We offer follow-up program packages to ensure success with hearing aid usage. These packages are designed to include all the training, care & maintenance, and follow up you will need to continue to hear your best. We don’t want your hearing aids sitting in a drawer.
Who will help you if your device needs maintenance or to be repaired? Is there an office you can go to or do you have to send it in somewhere? Is there a warranty? If so, what does it cover and for how long? If a device purchased at our office needs a clean-and-check (recommended at minimum 2x a year), tubing change (recommended at minimum yearly, likely 2x a year), needs a new receiver, or a simple repair we investigate and attempt to do this in office before we take advantage of your manufacturer warranty. Our hearing aid manufacturer warranties are for 3-4 years and cover repairs and loss & damage depending on the manufacturer. If you opt for an OTC device, remember to ask what is covered and for how long.
Who will be the individual helping you with any issues? Will you see an audiologist or a technician? The difference in education and clinical experience can be substantial. At our clinic you are taught how to insert/remove your devices, how to care and use them effectively as well as offer in-office maintenance. You are WORTH the investment of finding quality hearing aid options. At Hearing Resources Audiology Center our Doctor of Audiology, Evonne Serpa, and the rest of our staff will ensure your hearing is comprehensively cared for. Think of hearing aids as an investment in yourself; better hearing, better communication, better relationships.
Over-the-counter hearing aids will be here soon and we will all be learning what is involved with costs, care, and maintenance of them. When you schedule a hearing test and/or a hearing aid consultation appointment with us, we discuss all of these factors and more to help you decide what hearing aid would be the best option for you.
We are here for you, no matter what devices you use or where you got them. Contact us anytime with your questions or schedule now for your hearing evaluation and consultation.